Published: October 2, 2015
Students gathered for world suicide prevention day on Sept. 23 at the fourth floor ballroom in The DeNaples Center.
The day is meant to spread awareness globally about how to make your community more sustainable for people dealing with mental illnesses.
Guest speakers, The Rev. Dr. Rick Malloy from The University, and Betty Rozelle, assistant director of the center of career development center, also from The University, informed listeners on how to get rid of the stigma of suicide and mental illness.
“We cannot stop someone from ending their life, but we can respond with trust. It starts by telling someone you love them, unconditionally,” Malloy emphasized. “Never undermine the small acts of kindness you take part in.”
Malloy also noted that women attempt to end their lives more than men, but more men die from suicide per year. There are even more reported suicides than homicides per year.
Rozelle doubted the language used in today’s society about death by suicide.
“The horrible connotation surrounding the words ‘Committed Suicide’ needs to be changed,” Rozelle said. “Instead, use the words ‘Died By.’”
Rebecca Loonstyn, a first-year at The University, stated that the “slang” used by the younger generation causes them to be insensitive to the seriousness of mental illnesses.
“‘I want to kill myself’ is such a simple phrase thrown around when something is going wrong, but we don’t realize how much of a reality that could be for someone. You never know who is in your audience that could be hurt by saying something like this. We tend to assume that no one actually wants to do that, but there is no way of actually knowing that,” said Loonstyn.
John C. Norcross, Ph.D., a psychology professor at The University and author of acclaimed self-help book “Changeology,” explains the future of the mental illness stigma,
“Stigma will be reduced, probably never quite eliminated. But education is the key to stigma,” Norcross said. When people begin to view mental disorders like any other disorders it is a sign of health, rather than weakness, the stigma will gradually decrease.”
Jamie Torres, president of the suicide prevention club, aims to create a community so that The University can actively fight this problem together.
“Suicide awareness is so important because it is such a hushed topic we really need to work together as a community to change the stigma against mental illness,” Torres said.
Followed by the speakers was a 13 -minute candle-light walk representing the time between each death by suicide.
The month of September is dedicated to suicide awareness, but specifically we acknowledge National Suicide Prevention on Sept. 10.
This event was originally scheduled for Sept. 10 on the Dionne Green, but due to weather, both times, it was moved inside.